Florida or Bust

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This week, I’m trading snow, cold, and “frozen fog” for fun, sun, family, and friends in Florida. After 4.5 hours of sleep (thanks, baby!) I was up early to get ready and finish shoving waaaaay too many things in my new diaper bag of Mary Poppins proportions (Need a snack, blanket, change of clothes, coffee, and table lamp? No problem, got it all right here in my bag.). I was a little overpacked in the carry-on department, but this was my first solo flight with baby and I wanted to be prepared.

I arrived in Florida this afternoon bleary-eyed and covered in a thin layer of ritz cracker dust, snot, and tears (it was a rough descent for a certain small person). But we are in one piece and with a good night’s rest (thanks in advance, baby!), I’ll be ready for anything Tuesday can throw at me. Big decisions like: playground or pool? Which pool? Nap or read?

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Crossroads of time

One year ago today, I was sitting in the Manchester NH airport, waiting for a plane to deliver T from Colorado so that we (meaning, he and the dog) could pack my life into a relatively small steel box and move it out west.

Of course I’ve been thinking retrospectively lately. How could I not? About the amazing adventures we’ve had this year, like this one, and this one, and oh, remember this one?

Ironically, we’ll be celebrating this one year anniversery of our road trip by taking another road trip. Although just as life changing, the circumstances of this road trip are not happy, joyful, or hopeful, like the last one was. This time, we are driving to Illinois to attend funeral services for T’s father, who passed away earlier this week after a long, brave, trying battle with cancer.

I only knew Bob for a short time, saw him in just a handful of visits. T has told me lots of stories. I will remember Bob as a loving father and grandfather and a dedicated husband. I will remember his halting, deep laugh, his bright eyes and winking smile. I will still have T’s impressions–Bob as a father who would award a quarter to the kid who could “name that tune”, beat out an off-rhythm on the kitchen counter tops, or refer to the nearby grocery store as King Sooper, always dropping the “s” on the end. I see a lot of Bob in his youngest son, and I know that his memory lives on in the people he left behind and that for that, he will never be far away.

Our car is packed. Fischer is at Happy Hounds Doggy Day Care. I have a plane ticket home for Monday. In the morning, I’ll watch Point B fade in the rear view mirror, headed for a weekend of remembering. As the year-ticker turns over, I feel as though I am standing at the crossroads of time. I am looking to the future, to the next year of my life’s journey, but simultaneously, I am looking back, not just on the life of a great man, but also on where I’ve been and what I’ve learned since Point A disappeared behind a bend in the road, 365 days ago.

Up, Up, and Away

A couple of weeks ago, I went home for the Wellsville Balloon Rally. Mom arranged for she, sister, and I to go on a hot air balloon ride while we were there. What an amazing experience! Of course, I got sick (I’ve gotten sick paddling my own sea kayak)–not like really sick, just a little woosy. But, it was worth it for the amazing views of the valley.

Balloons filling up and taking off. Yup, that's the BP balloon up there in the sky. I was afraid we'd have to ride in it (I wouldn't have gone).

As we floated up, up, and away, we had great views back along the river. Balloon pilots really watch each other to help judge winds at different altitudes. Pilots can only control altitude, the rest is up to the wind.

I think I took this while we were still on the ground, waiting for our ride to inflate. As you can see, it was a perfectly clear, calm morning--great for flying! We felt like we really lucked out.

We floated over town, waving and shouting to people on the ground. Although we were high up, because the ride is nearly silent, we could hear people on the ground and in other balloons and they could hear us.

I liked looking at people's gardens. This one was neat because you could see where, year after year, they had rotated plots throughout the yard.

We floated west over Niles Hill. I watched a great blue heron fly along the ridge of the hill to its rookery in the trees, Mom exclaimed at pigeons circling below us, we watched a line of geese trailing through the river.

Sisters. One brave and fearless. The other a wimp and a little queezy. Both smiling.

We floated over the Wellsville Country Club.

We made a clean landing on the 18th hole. The basket didn't even tip over! What an amazing pilot!

Upon landing, the chase crew descended on us, manuvered us to a safe spot, helped us extract ourselves from the tiny basket, and industriously deflated and packed up our ride.

We celebrated a safe flight and landing with local wine (I pretended--still woozy from the flight and 8:00 a.m.? No thanks.) and this traditional toast: The Winds have Welcomed you with softness. The Sun has blessed you with his warm hands. You have flown so high and so well that God has joined you in your laughter and set you gently back again into the loving arms of Mother Earth.